evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: Intercession
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Pairing: Gen
Rating: G
Word Count: ~1000
Warnings: None
Summary: Aramis didn't need to be a priest to have faith - in fact, he had enough to share.


Intercession

In Porthos’ first year with the Musketeers, influenza swept through Paris. Though he’d been fortunate in years past, his improved circumstances were no protection against illness. It came on suddenly, leaving him wracked with chills and sapped of all his strength. He lost a day to feverish sleep, waking to croak a warning when there came a knock at his door - his newest sword-brother, Aramis, come to investigate his absence.

Strange, how much smaller and colder the room felt after Aramis called an acknowledgement through the door, when the sound of his footsteps faded away. Porthos curled tighter into his blankets, every muscle an aching misery, and tried not to think about nights pressed close to warm bodies in the squalor he’d left at the first opportunity.

The sound of the door creaking open startled him back to wakefulness, and he watched in confusion as Aramis awkwardly pushed the door closed, arms laden with bundles and blankets and bowls. Aramis cheerfully ignored all of Porthos’ questions, busying himself with stoking the fire and setting tea to steep. He paid not a whit of attention to Porthos’ protests, simply tossed an extra blanket on the bed, badgered Porthos out of his sweat-stained shirt and spread a foul-smelling ointment across his chest. Before Porthos quite understood what had happened, he’d been helped back into bed and warm tea had been pressed into his hand, easing the burn of his raw throat.

Aramis further did him the great favour of politely pretending not to notice the wetness in Porthos’ eyes and the ragged hitch to his breath at the small kindnesses.

Porthos never would remember much of the next few days, the memories irretrievably blurred by fever. What he never forgot was that he was never alone, and the ordeal of his illness was much eased by the touch of caring hands smoothing the sweat from his skin and the steady sound of a voice at his side though the worst of it all.

(Prayer had never been a refuge for Porthos, but now there was comfort in hearing the words from the man who had first made them mean something more than empty preaching.)

**

“Thought you left the Church,” Athos rasped.

Seated at his bedside, Aramis looked up at the unexpected interruption, smiling when he saw Athos awake and watching him. “I did. That doesn’t mean I turned my back on God.”

“And what has God done for any of us lately?” Athos’ condescension lacked its usual force, badly undermined by weakness of his voice.

Even the best swordsman could be felled by chance, and Athos’ luck had run out when a patch of rain-saturated earth turned to liquid under his heel. His desperate counter had knocked his opponent’s blade away before it could pierce his chest but he’d been too far off balance to block the man’s main gauche.

Aramis’ smile broadened, erasing some of the strain from his expression. “You’re still alive, aren’t you? That’s all I’m asking for right now.”

Athos snorted and closed his eyes, colour fading even further from his cheeks as the effort of speaking exhausted him. “Don’t waste your breath.”

“Prayers that you might keep breathing will never be a waste,” Aramis told him, curling one hand lightly around Athos’ limp, chilled fingers and the other around his crucifix.

(Much later, Athos would explain that of course he hadn’t died, he’d barely been able to sleep with all of the noise Aramis was making.)

**

Aramis found him at the Bonacieux home the day after they’d secured Athos’ release, packing his things. “Taking a trip?”

D’Artagnan nodded, swallowing hard. “I have to carry word to my mother.”

“Among other things.” The sympathy in Aramis’ eyes made it impossible to look at him. “Will you be back?”

“Back?” D’Artagnan nearly fumbled the shirt he was trying to fold into his bag. “I - I suppose I hadn’t thought it through.”

“You’d be welcome,” Aramis assured him. “Any one of us would sponsor you into the Musketeers, though I expect Treville will make you work for it regardless. A commission requires a minimum of proven experience, which you haven’t got yet.”

D’Artagnan sat down on the edge of the bed, waving an invitation to Aramis. “You know, I think I’d like that.”

Aramis grinned at him as he sat. “Good. I’ll tell the others. Unless you’d like to stop in?”

D’Artagnan shook his head. “I have to get started on my way.” And he’d never forgive himself if he broke down crying in front of them.

Aramis gave him a long look, idly spinning his hat. “Your father. He must have been a good man.”

Pride be damned, both the implied compliment and respect left D’Artagnan’s eyes stinging. “The best,” he managed through a throat that felt entirely too tight.

Aramis leaned forward and laid one hand on the hand d’Artagnan had clenched into a tight fist on his thigh. “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

(For all the entertainment Aramis would go on to find at d’Artagnan’s expense, neither of them ever spoke again of the occasion he spent murmuring a litany of sympathy as d’Artagnan lost the struggle against his tears.)

**

He’d been able to slip away in the pomp of the Duke’s departure, escaping to his rooms to dodge his fellow musketeers’ curiosity. He should have known that his retreat wouldn’t spare him their attention.

Porthos arrived first, walking straight into his rooms and remaining utterly deaf to all of Aramis’ half-hearted protests. At least he’d brought wine. D’Artagnan was next, appearing in the doorway as they opened a fresh bottle. He sat down at the table, and silently poured himself a glass. Aramis was half-expecting Athos as well, but somehow it was still a surprise when the man slid into the chair at his right.

Athos cleared his throat, long after they’d finished the wine, and the silence had grown thick and heavy. “I’m afraid you’ll have to get us started. We’ve all forgotten the words.”

(His memory flowed as smoothly as ever but Aramis’ voice broke over the words and he clung tightly to the hands that held his as he bent his head in prayer for his friends, those now lost and those without whom he would be lost.)

FIN


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